An almost-Yiddish proverb, not particularly for Bernie Madoff: “If you give up smoking and drinking and philandering, it doesn’t make you live longer –it just seems longer!”

   Every now and then, in this insane and increasingly tricky but still beautiful (and still, we hope, salvageable) world, we come across some indisputable wisdom, and this piece qualifies.

   In the original it would, I believe, have read somewhat differently, “If you give up smoking and drinking and bleep(-philander-)ing, you don’t live longer, it just seems longer.”]. Something like that, I suspect.

   I hasten to add: No, it’s not –as far as I know– a Yiddish proverb, but it’s spirit reminded me so much of the spirit in my short list of favorite Yiddish proverbs, that I used it as the opening of my introduction to  “A Collection of Yiddish Proverbs”.

   In my posting of a couple of days ago, I quoted two of these:  “If you’re going to eat pork, make it good and fat.” and, “Better a Jew without a beard, than a beard without a Jew.”

   No, I’m not recommending anything here. These are discoveries that we have to make for ourselves.  And let me throw in another piece of wisdom –this one definitely a Yiddish Proverb, “If done at the right time, it is not a sin.”

   All of the foregoing seem to suggest that I have a serious unruly-anarchist streak painted down the center-lane of my psyche, one that I should long since have taken a long hard look at.

 [Give me a moment….There. Finished.] Conclusion: No. Not really. That’s not what it is.

   And here’s my reasoning:  Wisdom is, it seems to me, never so much “one thing or the other” but –the balance between to two. In “If done at the right time, it is not a sin”, wisdom probably knows the “right time” –at least, better than anything else.

   As a young boy in Cobh –quite some time ago now– I, and all my siblings, devoured in our omnivorous reading, the short stories of the one-and-only Damon Runyon, who famously observed –and here we are back in post Bernie Madoff territory, almost– : “The race is not always to the strong and the swift, but that’s the way to bet.”

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   Isn’t life wonderful –I read that as a young boy some fifty years ago. I took it in and  put it, I suppose, on some shelf or other. And then, many years later –there it is! As good as ever.

   No –better than ever, because of all life’s eventuations in the meantime. And the really interesting thing is –sure, I have in my time learned for myself life’s “that’s the way to bet” lessons, more or less . (And hopefully, “More than somewhat” –to throw out another famous Damon Runyon line.)

  But it had to be written down, preferably in memorable DR form, and read in Cobh, or wherever, fifty years ago, or whenever, by a young lad, or whoever, for it to be encapsulated and then brought out.

 At the right time? Who can say?

   As someone else observed (more than somewhat earlier,): “Littera scripta manet.”

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   [ I leave you with another caveat: “Caveat Emptor”.  That one goes out especially for The Friends of Bernie.

   For all the rest of us, it’s going to be “Caveat Lector” –“Reader Beware”.

   Which warning is prominently displayed at every show of Stone Street Press books (–in the spirit of the “You can’t be too careful” Early Warning that Wards off later liability and lawsuit.)]

   Thank you, my dears.


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